An aerial view of Haiti's second-largest city, Cap Haitien. (Photo: Plan It Smarter)

Haiti’s economy to worsen as political turmoil intensifies

An aerial view of Haiti's second-largest city, Cap Haitien. (Photo: Plan It Smarter)

A World Bank report published in April indicated that Haiti’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract for a third-consecutive year by 0.7 per cent in 2021 as the country remains engulfed in political turmoil. By all indications, that projection could worsen following the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.

Though no official data are available to indicate the extent of the economic fallout, the World Bank says that a return to pre-pandemic GDP levels in Haiti is not envisioned until after 2023, under the proviso of a return to some political stability.

President of Haiti Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, triggering fears that the French-speaking country’s economy will worsen. (File photo)

This on the back of an already challenging 2020 where both the novel coronavirus pandemic and Haiti’s protracted political crisis took a toll on economic activity. Haiti’s GDP is estimated to have contracted by 3.4 per cent in the 2020/21 financial year.

While the country struggles to get its political house in order, its citizens are sinking deeper into poverty.

The poverty rate in Haiti is estimated to have risen to 25.1 per cent in 2020, from 23.6 per cent in 2019, in line with the economic slump. The World Bank has painted a grim outlook this year with the poverty rate projected to increase further to 25.6 per cent in 2021 as economic opportunities remain limited.

A man removes mud outside a store affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Laura, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on August 25. Poverty in French-speaking nation is projected to have risen from 23.6 per cent in 2019 to 25.1 per cent in 2020, in line with the economic slump.
(Photo: Reuters/Andres Martinez Casares)

According to the World Bank, the political crisis started intensifying in the first quarter of this year, keeping economic activity subdued. That’s why the World Bank has posited that Haiti’s most critical challenge is solving its protracted political crisis. That’s aside from the country’s lingering social and economic challenges.

— Andrew Laidley